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Mieczyslaw DRELICH

Mieczyslaw was born on February 3rd, 1918, in Dębina, Lublin voivodship, Poland. A graduate of the General School in Rechta near Lublin in 1933, a volunteer in the Junak Labor Corps from 1935 to 1937, and from 1937 he served in the 12th Armored Battalion in Łuck. He graduated from the NCO school and was promoted to the rank of corporal.

During the September Campaign in 1939, together with his battalion, he served in the so-called second line of defence, which was occupied on 09/17 by the Soviets. This forced the unit to evacuate to Romania and try to break through to France. In April 1940, together with his colleagues from the armoured units, he made his way to the Polish Independent Carpathian Rifle Brigade in the Middle East. In April 1940, they ended up in Beirut. Mieczyslaw participated in the Siege of Tobruk, and was decorated with the Order of Virtuti Militari and promoted to the rank of Platoon commander.

Mieczyslaw served with the Carpathian Lancers Regiment of the Polish 2nd Corps in Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt.  He was an instructor at the British Armored Training Center in Abbassia, Egypt. On 25 January 1944, he sailed to Italy landing in Taranto. He fought at Monte Cassino, on the Musone River near Loreto, at Ancona, and at Bologna. He stayed with the Regiment in Italy until 25 July 1946, when the troops were transported by sea to England.

In the British Isles, he stayed with the Regiment at Weelsby Camp near Grimsby, Lincolnshire, and then at West-on-Trent. On 2 August 1947, he left his regiment, being sent, due to his willingness to emigrate to Australia, to the transit camp in Chippenham, where he was to wait for a ship to the Antipodes.

He was awarded the following medals: Polish – the Virtuti Militari Order, the Cross of Valour, the Silver Cross of Merit (for his activity for Polonia)

On 22 September 1947, he arrived in Australia on board SS Asturias and finally reaches Tasmania through the Karakata transit camp near Perth and Melbourne. From 17 October 1947 to 7 October 1960, he worked as a senior car mechanic at The Hydro-Electric Commission (H.E.C) in Tasmania. He lived in Waddamana-Hiltop and Bronte Park.

In 1949 he married Maria Piwowar, and they raised two children:  Grażyna, Leszek. She was a Siberian survivor who evacuated from the USSR, and spent the rest of the war with her sisters at the Polish refugee camp in Valivade, India. In 1953, Mieczysław moved with his family to Hobart. After 1960, he ran a family shop in the city. He was very active in the Polish community and the Veterans’ Associations in Australia – including being a member of Branch No. 7 of the Association of Polish Combatants in Hobart since its founding in 1954. He otganized a number of veterans’ meetings, including the Australian Reunion of the Virtuti Militari recipients in 1973.

He actively supported the erection of the Polish-Australian Tobruk Brotherhood of Arms monument that was unveiled on 11 December 1982 in Hobart. He was the initiator of the monument erected in 1988 at the Polish section of the Pontville cemetery for the intention of those Poles who died outside the country.


In 1995, he published a collection of his own memoirs and those of his colleagues from the Polish 2nd Corps in the publication “Na wzburzonych falach życia”, which, thanks to the persistence of his son Leszek and Polish Museum and Archives in Australia in Melbourne, was translated and published in English in 2021 under the title “On the rough waves of life”.

Mieczyslaw Drelich passed away on 12 August 2012 in Hobart in, at the age of 94 years.




Summarized by Aneta Hoffmann, Warsaw, Poland from his book „Na wzburzonych falach życia”, Hobart 1995 and now translated here from the original Polish text..

Copyright: Drelich family

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